The 10 Biggest Mistakes Presenters Make

Giving a great presentation isn’t magic. But… how do you know what works and what doesn’t?

Many of us have learned from our own mistakes-which is the hardest way to learn. I’m going to share some of the most common traps and pitfalls of speakers and what you can do to avoid them. Ahhhhhh… this allows you to plan and deliver your next presentation with less stress!

The 10 biggest mistakes include:

1. Not analyzing your audience. You’re almost guaranteed to embarrass yourself if you walk in to present without figuring out who your audience is. For example you need to consider:

a. How many people will attend?

b. What do they already know about your topic?

c. What are their general demographics? (Age, gender, education level, occupation, etc.)

d. What is their attitude about your topic?

e. Why are they attending your presentation? (Forced to, want to learn something, etc.)

2. Not knowing your purpose. As silly as this sounds, it happens too often! Decide, upfront, why are you speaking. Is it to:

a. Inform/teach

b. Persuade

c. Sell something

d. Inspire

e. Entertain

Without this basic foundation, your presentation is likely to ramble all over the place leaving the audience wondering, “What is the message?”

3. Cramming in too much information. We’ve all heard the KISS principle. Keep it simple and your audience will love you! What is your absolutely essential point that you want to get across?

a. What are your supporting points? (Three is ideal.)

b. Avoid throwing in the “kitchen sink”! It’s tempting to add more and more content. Don’t fall into that trap. Keep asking yourself, does this add or detract from my main point(s)?

4. Choosing the wrong visual aids. Ask yourself, “What will enhance my presentation?” If a visual aid will make your point more clear or memorable then use it. Many speakers wouldn’t image speaking without PowerPoint slides. There are a multitude of choices when it comes to visual aids. Once choice is to use nothing if that gets your main point across the best.

5. Death by PowerPoint. Audiences around the world are fed up with boring PowerPoint slides. I can’t think of too much worse than beginning a presentation with a slide that is full of bullet points and text. This confuses the audience! They aren’t sure if they should read the slide or listen to you. Keep the slides extremely simple. One of the best books on this topic is Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.

6. Not practicing. This is the biggest sin of all! Many presenters believe that if they’ve put their ideas into a PowerPoint slide that all they have to do is click through the presentation and their work is done. Wrong! Nothing… nothing takes the place of practice. Practicing out loud or recording yourself is worth its weight in gold!

7. Not doing your homework. Here I mean taking the time to know the essentials of your presentation:

a. Where will you be speaking?

b. How will attendees be seated (classroom style, lecture hall, round tables, chairs only, etc.)?

c. How early can you get into the room to set up?

d. What equipment will be available to you?

e. Will someone introduce you or will you introduce yourself?

f. Will there be someone available to assist with technology issues? (This is a very frequent issue.)

g. And so much more…

8. Poor delivery/appearance. How will the audience be dressed? (Casual, business casual, jeans, coat and ties… ?)

a. The rule of thumb is to dress one notch above how the attendees will be dressed.

b. Looking your best will give you that added boost of confidence.

c. Using good eye contact will keep your audience engaged. You appear more confident when you include everyone in the audience-you do this best by using eye contact as you sweep the room with your eyes.

9. Going over time. Please don’t do this. If you were asked to speak for an hour, be sure to stop before the hour and allow time for questions and answers, if appropriate. Most listeners appreciate ending on time or a few minutes early. It’s painful to be trapped in a chair beyond the scheduled end time.

10. Not using a summary or conclusion. Have you ever attended a presentation where the speaker stops after the last point and ends abruptly? “Thank you.” It leaves the audience feeling confused. A short but powerful conclusion will make you look like the professional that you are. Reinforce what your message is all about-inspiring, calling to action, entertaining, etc.

Garden Photography and the Unique Challenges It Presents

The beauty of living in the South is that I get to enjoy my garden almost year round. While gardens in the Northeast look a bit sad in the winter. Gardens in the South provide color throughout the year. This is especially true in several local gardens in Charleston South Carolina. There are several former plantations in the area that filled with color from one season to the next.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is probably the most visited and is definitely my favorite. Magnolia Plantation dates back to 1670′s with areas of the gardens left in its original state. This of course has granted me a wonderful opportunity to capture beautiful 300 year old English gardens. This along with the historic background makes for a garden photographers dream setting.

There are always challenges for any photographer when taking pictures. Garden photography has its own set of unique challenges. First and foremost for me is lighting and the challenges it presents.

Bright sunny days are great for going to the beach, but not for taking pictures. The best natural lighting you can have is when the sky is overcast. The problem with having bright sunshine is that you get a reflection of the leaves. This causes an issue with you having too much contrast in your raw pictures.

Try and avoid midday sun if possible. You can try and create an area of shade with a blanket or bed cloth. There is one inexpensive method that I like to use and that’s cardboard. If you are able to get the right lighting the next issue is proper angle.

Getting the right angle on the subject you are focusing on is extremely important. You want to look at it from different positions and angles. This way you can eliminate any objects you don’t want in the shot. This can be a pole in the ground or a group of wires that’s used to brace a nearby tree. It could even be a hose or broken branch. Get close to the ground and look at it from that angle. Take a few shots with your camera shooting upright. Moving in closer after each shot and as close as an inch or two.

Use of a tripod can be very useful in low lighting situations that you just created. As well as close up shots. This will allow you to get a steady shot as well. I like to think I have a steady hand, but some shots are a little blurry at times.

Every season brings new life to gardens. Birds and bees in the Spring. Winter rye grass in the Fall. Sunflowers in the Summer. So, the last point that I can share is most important. Explore your surroundings and enjoy what nature has to offer. You’ll never find a subject in the garden that you have to ask to smile or hear complaints from.

I’ve been a Charleston photographer for over 10 years and each and every time I explore the area gardens with my camera at my side. I find something that I didn’t realize was there before. Makes each trip a very unique and rewarding experience.

Unique Presents For Bridesmaids

Your wedding is fast approaching, you have faced major challenges and now is the time to manage the minor ones. Being a meticulous bride, you want everything to fall into places, even to the tiniest detail of your wedding. Aside from the wedding favors that you will most likely handling after the major ones are through, the bridesmaids gifts are perhaps at the bottom of your check list as well. Although they are not mandatory, but these little details can make a huge effect in your entire wedding.

It has been a tradition to give bridesmaids gifts. It is a way to show appreciation for the hard work of the bridesmaids, as well as acknowledging their presence at your wedding. Finding and purchasing bridesmaids gifts can be both fun and challenging. Since they are your closest friends, you will surely enjoy shopping gifts for them, but not just mere gifts of course. Be creative and thoughtful so that your gifts will never be forgotten by your friends.

Opting for unique presents for bridesmaids is a genuine idea. However, make sure that you are choosing the right kind that fits their personalities. If you think it is challenging, well you are wrong. There are several ways, tips and ideas on how to come up unique presents for bridesmaids. Read the following ideas below and consider them as your options.

Gift Certificates

Gift certificates can make unique presents for bridesmaids. If you have doubts or uncertain on what to give, gift certificates will never go wrong. This unique gift idea can send your bridesmaids to their favorite restaurant, bookstore, spa, movies, theater, sporting event or etc. This is also perfect as you can have them bonded with each other while enjoying your unique gift for them.

Handmade Gifts

One great way to come up with unique presents is to make your own. Handmade gifts for bridesmaids are becoming very popular these days, as many brides are into DIY’s. There are plenty of gift ideas that are actually pretty easy to make. All you need is to be creative and complete the materials to make your own bridesmaids gifts. Suggestions like handmade scented candles, soaps, bags of goodies, personalized Cd’s, scrapbooks and keepsake boxes are a few easy-to-make gift items you may consider making yourself. Handmade bridesmaids presents are also a way to get creative and letting your skills and talent to shine through.

Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts can really make unique gifts for bridesmaids. Today, where almost everything can be personalized, you are sure that you can come up with unique bridesmaids gifts with your own personal touch. There are so many gift items these days that can be customized to meet the needs of consumers. For brides like you who wants to present something that can set their bridesmaids apart from the rest, engraved or embroidered gifts are the perfect option. A few personalized suggestions include embroidered handbags, engraved jewelry pieces, personalized picture frames, personalized keepsake boxes and other bridesmaids apparel that are available for personalization.